Teaser Tuesday 5/1/2018: “Death Warmed Over”

This week I’m reading Death Warmed Over, by Kevin J. Anderson:

Gun, With Occasional Zombie

This book takes place after “The Big Uneasy”, an event (so far not explicated) after which various legendary creatures (zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, etc.) returned to the world, sort of like old baseball cars being put back into circulation. Or something like that.

Getting down to business, Robin took the painting from the big troll enforcer and unrolled it on the nearby desk so we could look at the mournful zombie puppies. Alvin Ricketts let out a long, happy sigh. “Ah, just look at the pathos, the myriad levels! Doesn’t it just speak to you . . . right here?” He touched a fist to his ghostly sternum.

“It’s cute,” Sheyenne said.

And that, Sheyenne, is the problem I have with this book so far: It’s cute. Or more accurately, it’s cutesy, with a somewhat exaggerated sense of “ZOMG check it out we have trolls and vampires and werewolves and they all act just like people!” There’s nothing about the various supernatural creatures so far that marks them out as anything other than humans with a different species sign hung on their neck. For instance:

“Can you prove clear title?” asked Edgar Allan.

“Right here.” Robin handed over the title documents, which the troll studied meticulously. “I don’t specialize in real estate law, but the cemetery forwarded the proper paperwork this morning. I’d still advise you to buy title insurance.”
“Seems to be in order.” The little troll looked up at me, blinking his yellow eyes.“Pleasure doing business with you.”

After the signatures were duly notarized, Edgar Allan handed out business cards. “In case you’re ever in the market, I’ve got some underground deals that aren’t in the regular listings.”
Take Edgar Allan. Sure, he’s a troll. And a real estate agent. Who resells unoccupied crypts. But nothing in that paragraph would change if you snipped out “troll” and replaced it with “man”. Well, except that, with those yellow eyes, you might worry he had jaundice. Contrast this to something like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where, sure, the aliens are mostly recognizable types who speak and act more or less like humans, yet still come across as fundamentally alien. Not an easy trick to pull off. Adams nailed it; this book seems to be trying a little too hard. (Of course, I wouldn’t want any of my stuff held up for inspection against Douglas Adams, either …)
Oh, by the way, did I mention that the character, Sheyenne, is a ghost? We’ve got a few of those over in Father’s Books:

Pedro crouched down beside her. Because he couldn’t think of anything else to do, he knelt and put his fingers on the glass. It was slick and cold, and seemed to hum slightly under his touch, like a purring cat. He said, “Aren’t we supposed to ask a question?”

“Not this time,” Sandy said.

Because sometimes, the ghost doesn’t want to answer your stupid questions. Sometimes the ghost just wants you to shut up and listen. Should you do it?
Well, that depends on the ghost.

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